With final exams and planning for vacations, the holiday season is a hectic and exciting time. Studying and packing are important, but as an F or M student you must also prepare your documents for your return to the United States. Follow our blog every Tuesday in December for travel tips and information.
As the holidays approach, you might be planning to travel outside of the United States and return to your home country. When you come back to start your next school term, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers will be at the port of entry to determine your reason for coming to the United States and inspect your documentation. This process will be the same as when you first arrived to the United States. It is important that you hand-carry the following documents:
- Your valid passport
- Your signed Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status"
- Proof of financial support, which can be the same documents you provided at your original visa interview with the Department of State
- Evidence of acceptance to your school, like an acceptance letter or a recent tuition payment receipt
- Name and contact information (including a 24-hour emergency contact phone number) for your designated school official (DSO)
If CBP cannot verify your information, they may direct you to secondary inspection, where officers will conduct additional research. If CBP officers still cannot verify information after secondary inspection or you are missing required documents, they may either deny your admission into the United States or issue you a Form I-515A, “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor.”
If CBP issues you a Form I-515A, this means you can temporarily enter the United States but will have 30 days to submit your missing information to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). If you do not submit your documents within this period, you no longer have permission to be in the United States and must depart the country.
If you are issued a Form I-515A, contact your DSO as soon as possible so he or she can help you submit your paperwork to SEVP on time.